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May 03 2018

2 Years Ago Today

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I’ve been feeling sorrow deeply and keenly today and now I know why. Two years ago today, my beautiful boy, was the first time you had ever had to be away from our home overnight without us. Two years ago today I dropped you at U of MN Small Animal Hospital for your chest x-rays and, when clear, an MRI to map the location and shape of the soft tissue sarcoma peripheral nerve sheath tumor that had hidden in the brachial plexus and eluded all the doctors (so many) for too long.  And then the news that it was large – much larger than your surgeon expected and larger than it would be if this had not been cancer all along.  If it had not been cancer when we went to the e-vet (twice) and our own vets (ten times, maybe more) and when we preemptively amputated your toe (not cancer!) and the specialty consult at the U and multiple PT sessions there as well. All that time. All the times I asked, could this be cancer?  But yours was hidden. Covert. Sneaky.  And you were stoic.  This is one of the things your surgeon said when she was still a bit shell shocked at the MRI – she had been expecting a marble and it was a softball. A softball with tentacles.  And she said to me, “He is a very stoic dog.”

You were supposed to come home and the amputation was to be a few days later.  But the manipulation of your limbs for the diagnostic imaging broke your wall of stoicism.  You were in pain and you could not hide it.  They moved your surgery to the next day and kept you on intravenous pain meds till they could operate, so it was a shock to us all you did not come home. I know now, too, the surgeon knew there was no time to waste. It was already frighteningly close to your spine, but she told me it was still possible to hope she could resect cleanly.  And truly, 4 cm from your spine seemed shockingly close, but she said, “I only need 3 cm to get the margin.” And I thank her for trying, for being confident enough to try. She knew how loved you were and that none of us was ready for you to go. And everyone knew how strong you were – our regular vets, PT vets, everyone.  I wanted to feel there was nothing you could not overcome with our help.

Not having you with us that night and the next few was an empty feeling.  The space you weren’t occupying was vast and, of course, it still is now that you are gone.  As hard as that night was and as sleepless as it was, we still were counting on your strength and will to get us all through this.

I hadn’t discovered Tripawds yet – that was a few weeks off yet, so the knowing friends who would soon be supporting us were not with us yet, but many others were.  You had many, many friends, my beautiful boy.  Many were charmed by you, rooting for you and yes, loved you.  I hope you felt that. It buoyed me.

Everyday is still less than when you were ours as we miss you ceaselessly, but everyday I am grateful you were ours.

16 responses so far

Oct 27 2017

A Year Gone – And the World is Still Less

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It is 13 months to the day from when I last posted in this blog and we thought Pofi had kept cancer at bay.  The irritated old growth/bump on Pofi’s leg that I simply had to have removed (his remaining front leg – I could not have him worrying it and getting it infected) was Not Cancer.  But while we had to suspend Palladia for the surgery and the wound recovery, the insidious monster that was lurking in the darkness and not defeated at all roared back.  In mid October we got the all clear to resume Palladia and he was his happy self, counter surfing and playing at the dog park.  And a few days later the neurological symptoms showed up causing a fall and a bad entry into my vehicle.  At first the vets thought it was just a groin pull (and it surely was that, too), but the neuro symptoms increased incrementally.  In days he could not longer walk.  We did a Hail Mary spinal x-ray and there was hope it might be a disc compression as there was no sign that an STS tumor had pushed vertebrae out of the way or misshapen them.  So surgeons jockeyed the schedule to get him an MRI and potential disc surgery immediately after on October 26, 2016.  But the MRI again revealed my stoic, brave, strong warrior had a demonic mass, already large and ugly, in his spine.  And really, I know, it was already there when he started licking and bothering that old bump. Nerve sheath tumors are tricky.

It just was not possible for us to let him not wake up – I know that may have been selfish.  But he had not seemed to be in real pain and his appetite was undiminished and we thought we could have a day or two to spoil him with treats before we said good-bye.  But again, like the first MRI six months prior, manipulating him had left him with more pain than he started.  We still went home – had delicious burgers and tater tots delivered and slept all together on a mattress brought downstairs.  One final night snuggled right up against us.  Early in the morning I sent up flares and the wonderful home vet who had given him acupuncture the week before answered.  One year ago today we freed his spirit from the body that had failed him.  He took his sparkle with him.  The world immediately became less.  Less bright, less beautiful, less joyful, less fun.  Simply less.

One year later and it is still inconceivable to be without him.  I am not saying we don’t laugh and don’t smile.  But our lives are duller, diminished.

But my sweetest boy, you did bring us such joy.  Added such zest to our lives.  You lived yours with such gusto and we are so grateful you blessed ours for nearly twelve years.  Thank you for every moment of that.  Thank you for taking my breath away with your beauty and grace and the light that shone in your eyes.  Thank you for being a perfect for me dog.  We love you so much, my Boo.

14 responses so far

Sep 27 2016

Drum roll, please…

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Just popping in to say....

Just popping in to say….

Our surgeon called with the most excellent news.  Sometimes a bump is just a bump. It was still benign and it is fully excised to boot!  And speaking of boots, that means when he is healed up in another 10 days or so,  Pofi can get measured for a Therapaws carpal brace to help keep his front leg in good shape.

Thanks for all your good thoughts – we really appreciate it!

Oh, hai! Did you hear my good news?

Oh, hai! Did you hear my good news?

19 responses so far

Sep 24 2016

A bit of a bump, or lump, in the road

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More than four months post amputation and into his 12th year now (# 12 Gotchaversary coming up in November), Pofi continues to do well and be spirited and happy far, far more days than not.  Back on August 1, we had a second post op onco cat scan of lungs and surgical site and all was well.  Lymph nodes unchanged or maybe smaller than at first (we also had FNA cytology of a node at that first appointment and there was nothing concerning), no lung mets and surgical site looking clear as well.  While we were discussing the results and how he was doing in general, the oncologist noted a prominent callused mass on Pofi’s forearm of the remaining front leg.  They took a photo and asked about it and I said it had been there for 6 years, not really grown in the last 5  and been determined to be benign.  They also measured it (a perfectly round 2.25cm diameter) and said we should watch it.

As if those words were heard and understood, by Pofi or that damn lump, it started to seem to bother him in the last few weeks.  And it seemed to get a bit more prominent. It is hard to say which came first – the worrying and licking at it or the greater dimension came first, but despite our efforts, he managed to remove a lot of the callus and ulcerate it.  Still, I was determined we could calm it down, get past this (he was also licking clean some other spots around the wrist – this lump is above that carpus) and he frankly, has always done this to his poor wrists and feet every once in a while.  Always seemed like a seasonal irritation.  But on this past Sunday, at the dog park, he also got it pretty gloriously wet in some mucky lake edge water.  I tried to gently clean it up and redress it to keep him from licking, but by Monday evening, he was suddenly seeming to be very unsettled, very uncomfortable and perhaps a little painful (there were a few little squeaks to indicate this).  It was a rough night – and I considered bringing him in to the U of MN for an emergency look over and consulted with them on the phone, but had given him 2 Tramadol by then and he was calming down and relaxing.  About 6 hours later, 2 more Tramadol and 1 Carprofen seemed to have near immediate effect when he was restless again and in the end we got good sleep.

Wet, dirty and happy - at the Airport Dog Park

Wet, dirty and happy – at the Airport Dog Park

Morning and he acted as if nothing had happened.  But I got a suddenly open slot on the onco schedule for the afternoon and in we went.  Our onco was not available, so another from the staff boned up on his case before we arrived and we had a thorough recheck.  He showed no real sign of pain anywhere at all except when that now mean looking ulcerated mass was poked or prodded and even that was not seemed perfectly reasonable to all of us.  All of the other fatty lipomas he has were once again palpated and measured and nothing seemed changed or troublesome there.  Pofi, in fact, handled it all like a champ.  And the offending lump is still the exact same diameter, but does seem to have more depth to it.  But also sort of inflamed looking.  So he asked, would we or had we ever considered removing it?  YES.  Would I consider removing it now so we could relieve the irritation and worry of infection on his much needed leg?  YES!  And would I like to talk to a surgeon for a quick consult right now if one could be located?  YESSSS!!!

In case there is any wonder why we would consider removal of this thing from his remaining front leg, I present the culprit in all its miserable glory.

In case there is any wonder why we would consider removal of this thing from his remaining front leg, I present the culprit in all its miserable glory.

Happily, a surgeon was located and despite his protestations, Dr. E was able to really get a good feel of it.  We all talked about why it might be bothering him – could be seasonal allergy (other spots on leg also licked clean), it could be he knocked or scratched it first, it could be his only front leg is now sometimes a little painful, especially the fallen, hyper extended carpus, or, of course, it could no longer be benign.  The very good news was that he felt it was not deep at all – only in the skin – and he could remove it quickly and likely even close it without issue despite how little skin there is on the skinny part of a skinny dog’s leg.  Tension relieving incisions MIGHT be necessary, but thought he might be able to do without.

Also discussed – had we ever considered a brace to support that fallen carpus?  Well, yes, before he was a Tripawd this was discussed.  And why had we not pursued? That damn lump, that’s why!  And so if we removed this and get pathology on it, not only would he be more comfortable and we would know if there was some sort of spread (or different cancer), but he could be measured for and get fitted with a custom carpal support brace from Therapaws (or another option).  Honestly, despite the fact this will be the 9th GA for this dog in just over one year, this was a no brainer and when he said he could do it on Friday, I immediately agreed.  I don’t want to manage and worry about this lump any longer.  If it is cancer, it needs to be removed.  If it isn’t cancer, it needs to be removed.  Fine needle aspiration was done and nothing ugly showed in that, but this is not, of course, definitive.

We discussed his current meds regime and onco and surgeon agree we will have to suspend the Palladia while the surgical incision heals, as the way Palladia works could impede healing.  So that is a week to 10 days, but absolutely worth the risk as our use of it is out of an abundance of caution as we see no definitive proof (yet) of recurrence or further metastasis.  So his chest and heart were also listened to and blood drawn for the pre-surgical work up; nothing remarkable and nearly every value is good and none are concerning.  Yet again, after being taken from me for the blood draw, Pofi the three legged wonder hound pulled a perfectly normal sized doctor down the hall like they were ski-jouring to get back to his Mommy; Dr. E laughed and said, “He’s pulling me off my feet!”

We returned home to enjoy the next few days with dinners or rotisserie chicken and kibble, birthday treats (his just past and Mia’s is actually today) and presents.  You can see, despite no pain meds since wee hours of Tuesday morning, he is feeling just fine.  But the lump, while being lightly bandaged afresh daily, is still just ugly.

And because we were in a fine mood, we thought we’d try some selfies:

We are not good at selfies...

We are not good at selfies…


...But we laugh about how bad we are at them!

…But we laugh about how bad we are at them!

Cut to Friday morning and after barely sleeping, I am up at 5:15 to be ready to drop him for surgery by 6:30 and then go straight to the office where I have a long and busy day ahead of me culminating with a 2 hour presentation on soon to be launched process and tool changes to the people impacted (think herding cats).   And had signed up to volunteer for a cook-a-thon later (and really can’t back out) and pick up a friend at the airport at midnight to bring her to her hotel.  Pofi is DELIGHTED to be going solo with Mommy in the car until he quickly susses out our direction.  And I get the pleasure of leaving my dog with them, listening to his SHRIEKING echoing off the high ceilings in the expansive hospital lobby.

Surgery went well and was short.  Dr. E had no problems closing the wound.  Po, the champ, came out of anesthesia uneventfully.  He ate dinner very well – was just tiny bit whiny on ride home and at home, but I think it more his dissatisfaction with the mega bandaging than any pain.  To be certain he could sleep, I do give him some Tramadol, but we don’t need to repeat it later.  He woke up pretty bouncy this morning and is being completely chill while Daddy sands the floors in our living room; remarkable in itself as air compressors and other power tools send him round the bend.  In 7 to 10 days, we’ll have the pathology.  Hope, of course, for it to be benign, still.  Or low grade STS at worst.  Appreciate all the good vibes you can lob our way on that count and for healing to proceed without incident.  But we are so, so happy to have it gone.

Post lumpectomy, Mia keeps a watchful eye over her brother. As my husband said, it is easy to overlook the fact this is very hard on her, too. Especially on the days where she ends up home alone with only cats for company. And he is really her only canine friend. Sweet girl.

Post lumpectomy, Mia keeps a watchful eye over her brother. As my husband said, it is easy to overlook the fact this is very hard on her, too. Especially on the days where she ends up home alone with only cats for company. And he is really her only canine friend. Sweet girl.


This morning - feeling brighter and completely unworried about the floor sander!

This morning – feeling brighter and completely unworried about the floor sander!


20 responses so far

Sep 10 2016

Fabulous four month ampuversary and 12th birthday in September

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Today, the 10th of September, is our 28th wedding anniversary and it is a few days past Pofi’s 4 month Ampuversary (the 4th) and a few before his 12th birthday (the 15th, give or take a day).

And so, we celebrated today, how else, but with a trip to the Airport Dog Park.  There are days when I worry because Pofi does not seem to want to walk on leash and seems to get tired quickly doing it.  But I really am starting to believe that is because I slow him down and he can’t leverage momentum to his advantage the way he can off leash.  Today we were at the park for an hour and he barely stopped to rest.  Just twice in all that time did he take a bit of a break.

So the celebration for Pofi involved some splashing in reedy Mother Lake, of course:

And a little relaxation after that:

September 10 - four months post amp and Pofi enjoyed the moderate temps and romped for a long time before taking a break.

September 10 – four months post amp and Pofi enjoyed the moderate temps and romped for a long time before taking a break.

With sissy Mia, of course:

Pofi having a great day and has just been splashing in the lake, but takes a break in the shade while Mia fetches the ball.

Pofi having a great day and has just been splashing in the lake, but takes a break in the shade while Mia fetches the ball.

And Mia had fun, as well.  Smiling dogs all around:

Mia was delighted her new BFF, Liz, met us there.

Mia was delighted her new BFF, Liz, met us there.

Will post later this week when we celebrate his Terrific Twelve!

18 responses so far

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